As we rejoice in the demise of the odious omnibus, it’s important to see just what happened here. Yes, it was a major failure for Harry Reid and the Democrats, and a vindication of the voters’ intent in November. But it resulted from a change of heart among a few Republicans, including some key appropriators and Mitch McConnell himself. It’s good that this change of heart happened, but the fact that it was necessary—that until yesterday you could count about 8 or 9 potential Republican votes for the bill—was an indication that Reid and the Democrats were not the only ones who tried to ignore what the voters seemed to be saying last month.
This opening of the eyes of the Republican appropriators (brought about by a groundswell of outrage from conservatives) is the most important part of the omnibus story, and maybe of the lame-duck Congress in general. Combined with the minor revolution John Boehner is attempting to enable in the House Appropriations Committee (by appointing some new members who might be best thought of as a kind of crop of anti-appropriators) it has the potential to change the culture of Congress (which has long consisted of three parties: Republicans, Democrats, and appropriators) in a very important and constructive way—if it lasts.